Support Group for Victims of Priest Abuse Fights Subpoena
The victims support group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has vowed to fight a subpoena that they argue is meant to intimidate and harass victims of sexual abuse by priests, according to the Boston Globe. Lawyers for the Catholic Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts have subpoenaed the leaders of SNAP, seeking information about five women who filed a civil lawsuit against the diocese for failing to protect them against convicted rapist and priest Robert E. Kelley, as well as the names of “all persons” who have alleged abuse by Kelley, according to the Associated Press.
Wendy Murphy, the lawyer representing the women in the lawsuit, argues that the case against Kelley is strong enough without the names of persons alleging abuse who are not involved in the lawsuit, the Globe reports. In addition, SNAP leaders worry that victims of sexual abuse will not feel comfortable taking part in a support group if their names could then be exposed without their consent, according to the Globe. Paul Baier of Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics that formed earlier this year at the beginning of the priest sex abuse scandal, also expressed to the Globe his worries that if this subpoena is successful, it may jeopardize the work of other confidential victim support groups, such as rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.
Kelley spent several years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of rape in 1990, and he has admitted to sexual abuse of 50 to 100 girls 20 years ago, according to the Associated Press. Though he has not been active in the Church since 1986, he has not been defrocked. Although media reports of priest abuse in the past year have focused on male victims, some experts estimate that as many as half of all victims are women, according to the Kansas City Star.
Media Resources: Boston Globe 9/22/02; Associated Press 9/22/02; Kansas City Star 7/12/02
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .